Reading Ahead is the new name for the Six Book Challenge.
Pat Leonard completed her Level 2 Literacy in the Summer along with her husband Bill in a class run by Bolton College. Pat tells us how the Six Book Challenge not only helped them with their reading but also got their grandson reading as well:
Pat says: "Bill and I had both been going to adult numeracy and then literacy classes held at our local primary school. We passed our numeracy exams, and then went on to do Level One and then Level Two literacy - that was when one of our tutors told our group about the Six Book Challenge, and brought in Kath, another tutor, to explain how it works.
"I have always loved reading, so I said 'yes' straight away. But Bill said 'I don't read; I'm not doing it.' He hadn't read for over 40 years, since he left school at 15! But there were Quick Reads books to read - they're not great thick books, so the rest of the group encouraged him and he took one.
"And do you know what? The first book Bill took, he could not put it down! It was by The Reading Agency's Ambassador, Andy McNab. It was brilliant, I couldn't believe it that he was reading a book. He says he's going to keep on reading too - we're going to go to the library and get him some more books to read. He says it helps him to relax - I can read and switch off from background noise around me, but when Bill reads he likes to concentrate, so we switch the TV off.
"It was brilliant - our tutor brought us books in, which we borrowed and took home and read, and then brought back the following week. As we read the books, we filled in our diaries giving our views on them. It got me reading books that I would not otherwise have read.
"My grandson Marcus, who is eight, has got involved too. He always used to bring his reading book home after school, and I would do some reading with him, hearing him read. But then when he saw Bill and me reading our books and filling in our diaries for the Six Book Challenge, he asked if he could do it too. I said that I'd have to ask, but as a result he also did a Six Book Challenge using a special diary that tutor Kath had devised for a Family Learning group, along with the daughter of another woman in the class. Marcus had his books from school, but he would come in and say 'Grandma, I need an extra book to read' for the Challenge; he'd ask for one of the books I'd bought, so that got him reading different books from the ones he was reading at school. (Kath Morgan, pictured above speaking at our tenth birthday party.)
"When they both finished the Six Book Challenge, Kath did them each a special certificate and she went into their school and did a presentation in front of the whole school - they were both really chuffed; it was brilliant encouragement for them. And then Marcus went on to do the Summer Reading Challenge, which helped him to keep him reading over the school holidays, which is great, because often boys just want to be out playing.
"I think doing the Six Book Challenge has been a really good experience for all of our family. I think it's so good for children to see adults - their parents and grandparents and so on - reading. It encourages them a lot; some children, especially boys, can think you look a bit soft reading a book, but as they get older and they see mum or granddad reading, it helps get them into the habit.
"I also think the Six Book Challenge has been great for the group we did our literacy classes with. We've passed our exams and finished now, but we wanted to go on reading, so we asked the headmistress at the school where we had our classes if we could keep using the community room, and she said; "Yes, of course", so we meet each week. Some of us knew each other because our children or grandchildren went to the school, but some of the group came from other places, so it's meant we've met new people and made new friends.
"For anyone out there thinking about doing the Six Book Challenge, but maybe feeling a bit embarrassed about their reading or worrying about having the time to do it, I'd say just enrol and go for it. It will encourage you and your children - it definitely did for us!"
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